An adoptive parent group (sometimes called an adoptive parent support group) is a group of adoptive parents and prospective adoptive parents who meet to obtain information about adopting as well as to socialize and/or to discuss issues related to adoption. Often these groups can be very helpful to people who are trying to adopt a child.
There are hundreds of active adoptive parent groups nationwide; some are new and some are well established. Some are very large and well organized, such as the Adoptive Parents Committee in New York, which has many chapters throughout the state and has a very popular annual conference. Others are small groups comprised of 20 or 30 people (or fewer) who enjoy getting together and sharing information.
Some adoptive parent groups concentrate on people adopting children from particular countries, such as China, Russia, or Guatemala. Others concentrate on older children or children with special problems. Some groups—particularly the large ones—provide information on all adoption options, including U.S. (also called domestic) adoption, international adoption, and children of all ages. Some groups are politically active and lobby for changes to state and federal adoption laws, and others don't see that as part of their mission.
Join the Group
Many people join more than one adoptive parent group. They may decide to become members of one group because of the great newsletter it produces even if they live too far away to attend meetings regularly. They join a local group to have face-to-face interaction.
Why re-invent the wheel? Believe it or not, almost any kind of adoption problem that you encounter has been faced by someone else. And almost any fear that looms paramount in your mind has been previously vanquished by another person. By joining an adoptive parent group, you stand to gain from the experience of others.
Here are just a few of the advantages of joining a group:
- A chance to learn the latest information
- An opportunity to meet people who have adopted—and to see their children
- A chance to meet social workers or attorneys and ask questions
- A feeling of camaraderie and support that you can't duplicate elsewhere
- Empathy and understanding for what you need
Of course, it's important to connect with a group that meets your needs—or is as close to what you need as possible. So, for example, if you want to adopt a child from China and a nearby parent group is made up solely of people who have adopted children in the United States, this group won't really be able to help you much. (They can empathize with your desire to adopt, the aggravation of waiting for your child, and so forth, so don't necessarily rule them out.) What you really need is to associate with others adopting children from other countries, especially from China.
However, if you want to adopt an infant through an agency or attorney in the United States and have no interest in intercountry adoption, a group focusing on adopting Chinese children wouldn't be of much help.
Finding a Group That's Right for You
So how do you find an adoptive parent group, anyway? And, when you've found one, how do you know whether it's right for you? Try these suggestions:
- Contact your state adoption office, usually based in the state capitol.
- Ask local adoption agencies and/or adoption attorneys whether they are aware of any adoptive parent groups in the area. If any groups are within about 50 miles of where you live, consider traveling to a meeting to check out the group. It might be worth your time!
- Ask your local RESOLVE group for recommendations. RESOLVE is a national group for people seeking help with infertility and also provides information on adoption. If you don't know of a local group, call RESOLVE at their main office, 617-623-0744, or write to them at RESOLVE, Inc., 1310 Broadway, Somerville, MA 02144-1731.
- Ask your clergyperson.
- Ask your doctor.
- Call the nearest state adoption office and ask the state or county social workers whether they know of a group.
- Look in the Yellow Pages of your phone book under “Adoption.” Some larger groups advertise there.
- Ask local adoption agencies for recommendations. (Note, however, that some agencies run their own parent groups for parents who have adopted through their agency. I recommend you start with a group of members who have adopted through a variety of sources instead.)
- Check the newspaper for listings of groups that meet regularly. (If you can't find such a list, call the newspaper and ask whether and when they include this information.)
- Ask hospital social workers at local hospitals (or within a 50-mile radius) whether they know of any parent groups. (Hospital social workers often become involved, if only peripherally, in infant adoptions.)
The downside of joining an adoptive parent group is that you might not always agree with other members' opinions. For example, one person might tell you that a particular adoption attorney should be avoided; others might like this attorney. It's also true that some groups are managed by an adoption agency or attorney, so their views prevail. As you gather information, don't be overly reliant on what any one person (or couple) says and don't assume that what another person thinks or feels is how you would or should think or feel.